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UK Parliament Launches Probe Into Claims Senior Tories Bullied MPs in Fracking Vote

The House of Commons has launched an investigation into claims that ministers “bullied” Conservative MPs during Wednesday’s vote on fracking.

Fracking is a sensitive issue for the Conservative Party. While Prime Minister Liz Truss supports fracking, many Tory MPs face strong opposition to the practice in their constituencies.

While Labour’s motion to ban fracking was defeated by 230 votes to 326, allegations soon emerged that Conservative MPs had been bullied into voting with the government.

Health Secretary Therese Coffey and Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg are among the group of senior Tories accused of bullying the party’s MPs into voting against Labour’s motion on fracking.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said on Thursday that he has asked the serjeant at arms and other parliamentary officials to investigate allegations made about incidents in the Commons on Wednesday night.

In a statement to MPs, Hoyle said: “I remind members that the behaviour code applies to them as well as to other members of our parliamentary community, and this gives me another opportunity to talk about the kind of House I want to see and I believe that the vast majority of MPs also want to see.

“I want this to be a House in which we, while we might have very strong political disagreements, treat each other courteously and with respect, and we should show the same courtesy and respect to those who work with and for us.

“To that end I will be meeting with senior party representatives to seek an agreed position that behaviour like that described last night is not acceptable in all circumstances.”


Ahead of the vote, the government told Tory MPs that it is treating the vote as a confidence vote in the government, and that MPs would have the whip withdrawn and would be expelled from the parliamentary party if they failed to support the government.

However, shortly before the vote at 7 p.m., climate minister Graham Stuart announced in the Commons chamber that, contrary to what MPs had been told earlier, it was not being treated as a vote of confidence in the government.

Senior Labour MP Chris Bryant said there was pandemonium outside the division lobbies, with MPs opposed to fracking uncertain what would happen to them if they voted with the opposition.

In the chaos, Bryant told Sky News, Tory MP Alex Stafford was “physically manhandled” into the “no” lobby by a group of senior Tories including ministers Therese Coffey and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Coffey denied the claim, and Rees-Mogg said he had not seen any bullying when the vote took place.

Number 10 later said Stuart had been “mistakenly” told by Downing Street to say the vote should not be treated as a confidence motion, and that Conservative MPs were “fully aware” it was subject to a three-line whip.

A spokesman said the whips would be speaking to the Tories who failed to support the government, and those without a “reasonable excuse” would face “proportionate disciplinary action,” though that does not necessarily mean whey would have the whip removed.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Alexander Zhang


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